Movie Review: The Place Beyond The Pines
Prinz Lee wrote this review 4 years ago
Following his harsh portrayal of love in “Blue Valentine,” divided into three short-film-like-acts, Derek Cianfrance’s “The Place Beyond The Pines” starts off like what seems to be a crime drama, however, shifts into a dark, gritty, intense tale on relationships between fathers and sons and the horrible legacies left behind.
Act one follows carnival stunt rider Luke (Ryan Gosling) visited after a show in Schenectady, NY by Romina (Eva Mendes), with whom he had a fling with the last time his carnival passed through the city. A spark reignites, but she rejects advances, and when he decides to drop by the next day before the carnival moves on, he discovers their fling produced a little boy. Stricken by this surprise, he decides to quit the carnival and stay on to look after Romina and their son, despite the fact she’s moved on with her life. He stumbles upon a job with Robin (Ben Mendelsohn), who owns a beaten, old auto repair garage. Luke quickly learns he can’t make enough money to support his son and the boy’s mother adequately, followed by Robin jokingly suggesting an act entailing detail planning, alongside Luke’s riding talents, which become a reality.
Based upon Luke’s decisions, in act two we’re introduced and follow Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper) in the aftermath of his encounter with Luke, and how morphing into a hero takes him on a path he couldn’t have anticipated, which effects many of the relationships in his life, including his relationship with his infant son.
The third and final act ties two sons (Dane DeHaan, Emory Cohen) coming together, unaware of their fathers’ linkage and its intense impact on their lives.
The pacing in this movie seems to be quite unique! Running somewhat in reverse across three acts, starting quickly with crime drama action by Gosling’s menacing masculinity, begin to slow down when Cooper’s story takes the lead, and finally slowing even more when the adolescent boys take over the film, before the pace shoots up once again with uncontrollable violence at the end of the final act! It’s a strange, yet uniquely artistic take on the surface of it, but it works perfectly in constructing an almost tragic painting of parental responsibility and the often dismantling aftermath that physically, mentally, or emotionally absent fathers have on the all-around well-being of their sons.
Building on “Blue Valentine,” Cianfrance and his cast portray emotion that feels genuine and quite frankly painful at times to watch! He blends tones and pacing uniquely and in a manner that never loses our interest despite the film’s long running time. This is a film mainly about male antagonists and relationships, leaving female supporters Eva Mendes and Rose Byrne (Cooper’s wife, “Jennifer”) to do no more other than appear briefly as distraught, anguished, or unhappy souls to the fathers of their sons, which is brilliant for superb drama that embarks on shattered relationships between men tangled in a complex web of their existences, choices, and outcomes.
One of the best films to hit theaters this year so far, “The Place Beyond The Pines” will stand on its own among others as the year continues. With brilliant writing, performances, and direction…I can see this piece obtaining lots of attention, labeling it as a standout considering most of bigger budgeted competitors.
It digs deep, dark, gritty, intense, does away with usual clichés, and most of all touches among a harsh reality experienced anywhere around the world!